Thursday, May 15, 2008

The budget, education, and selling us a bridge to nowhere

The Budget; education; and selling us a bridge to nowhere.
The California budget is a mess- at least a $15 Billion deficit.
About half of California’s schools are in a mess: California’s students rank 48th. out of the states in 4th. grade reading on the NAEP, 47th. in 4th. grade math, and 43rd. in 4th. grade science. California ranks 48th. in 8th. grade readingon the NAEP, 45th. in 8th. grade math, and 42nd in 8th. grade science.
That is, our schools are in crisis, particularly our schools serving Black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students. And, after 20 years of “school reform,” there has been no real progress.
So what is proposed in the Governor’s budget ? Well first they propose to cut $4.1 billion from the schools. This will increase class size, eliminate counselors and lead to teacher lay offs. The Governor would also will cut health care to some seniors, the disabled, and children.
While cutting and slashing, the Governor also proposes spending at least 9 million additional dollars for a new video based test for new teachers (TPA or PACT). This new test has no relationship to the crisis in school achievement of California’s failing schools. It does, however, provide career advancement for test writers and professors at Stanford and elsewhere, provide them with coffee, donuts and catered food while they meet, and keep them from having to work with real teachers in real classrooms to deal with the problems students in real schools.
It is a bridge to nowhere. A boondoggle. The state might as well fund research on developing rain forests in the Iowa prairie. And, unless the California Assembly Budget Committee acts, it is a boondoggle that you and I will pay for.
It is a bridge to create a test that is not needed and will not improve teaching nor learning, but a few bureaucrats and three college professors want it. So, while we don’t have money for class size reduction, summer school, and safe schools, we have money for this. Excuse me- I thought that we had a budget crisis and a school crisis, but I haven’t heard of a test crisis.
You may have heard the story of the drunk who lost his/her keys in the dark alley. He couldn’t see well enough to find the keys. So, he went down the block to where there was a street light and searched there. Along came a friend and offered to help. After a few minutes the friend asked, Where again did you lose the keys?
The drunk replied, back there in the dark alley. The friend asked- if you lost the keys in the dark alley, why are you looking here at the corner? The drunk replied, because there is not enough light to see in the dark alley.
The proposed funding of Teacher Performance Assessment during a state budget crisis is like turning on the street lights in the next block. That is not where the school crisis is- and you won’t find the keys to quality education there.

Duane Campbell
see prior post: http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2008/04/students-first-california-public.html
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